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2 Houston organizations announce strategic appointments across finance and research

Here are two of the latest updates on new appointments from two Houston organizations. Photos courtesy

Three Houston innovators have new roles they're excited about this summer. From new academia to bitcoin, here's who's moving and shaking in Houston innovation.

Rice University names vice president for research

Ramamoorthy Ramesh joins Rice to lead research. Photo via Rice.edu

Rice University named Ramamoorthy Ramesh, a condensed matter physicist and materials scientist with more than 25 years of experience, as vice president for research. He most recently chaired energy technology and taught physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is expected to start his new position on August 15. He follows Yousif Shamoo, who served as in the position for eight years, and Doug Natelson, has acted as interim since June.

“Ramesh comes to Rice with a distinguished research career and a wealth of experience and knowledge in various types of research enterprises,” says newly inducted Rice President Reginald DesRoches. “I am confident he will be a transformational leader who can strengthen Rice’s reputation as a center of increasingly impactful and broad-based interdisciplinary research that retains a deep commitment to pedagogy and the student experience.”

In addition to his extensive leadership at Berkeley, Ramesh was the founding director of the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, deputy director of science and technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and associate laboratory director at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, per a news Rice release.

“Building upon its rapidly rising research portfolio, Rice has the potential to further strengthen and expand its engagement with public and private funding agencies and be the science and technology beacon for the world,” he says in the release. “I look forward to helping make that happen and to engaging on behalf of the university at various state, national and international fora of relevance to the Rice research enterprise.”

Bitcoin expert joins Houston financial firm

Lisa Hough has a new title. Image courtesy of LevelField

Houston-based LevelField Financial has named Lisa Hough as the company’s head of business development. The financial services firm focuses on uniting digital assets and traditional banking services onto one platform. Hough, with her background in bitcoin and energy trading, will focus on expanding LevelField's market presence and report to Gene A. Grant, II, founder and CEO of the company.

“Lisa is the perfect addition to LevelField's veteran banking and financial service executive team. Her experience will meet our clients’ wants and needs, which are well-managed and regulated investment products that blend established and emerging digital assets,” says Grant in a news release. "Lisa's ability to connect with clients will enable them to rapidly build a well-informed perspective on digital assets.”

Hough has a decade of experience in natural gas trading and risk management at energy trading organizations, including Vastar Resources, Enron, and PG&E National Energy Group, and is a frequent speaker at global finance and energy conferences.

“My passion is to educate and connect all people to bitcoin because it is the only form of property that can be held by every human on earth, regardless of property rights,” she says in the release.

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Building Houston

 
 

With the consumer price index rising 9.1 percent since last year, many Americans are evaluating new employment opportunities with better pay. However, employees would be wise to consider the risks of accepting a new position in the face of inflation and a possible recession, which could leave employers unable to sustain higher wages and generous benefits.

As a safer option in the longterm, employees may wish to ask for a raise from their current management, yet many do not know how to start the conversation. By understanding best practices for negotiations, employees can improve their chances of obtaining a pay raise without undermining relationships.

Understand the risks of job-hopping

Conventional wisdom suggests that job hopping can result in higher salary increases than an annual raise. During the pandemic, many employees took advantage of labor market shortages to secure new positions for higher pay. However, job hopping presents risks, particularly in an uncertain economic environment. Companies may institute “last in, first out” layoffs, leaving recent hires unemployed.

Even in strong economic conditions, job-hoppers face uncertain outcomes. When employees leave a company, they may leave behind teammates, mentors, client partnerships and friendships years in the making. These relationships can redevelop in a new organization, but employees may find themselves in an unfamiliar setting, facing unrealistic expectations or unexpected challenges that were not clear during the interview process.

Prepare ahead of time

Before approaching management with a request for a raise, employees should understand their own financial needs and how much additional compensation would improve their finances. If inflation has caused financial strain, employees should gather recent data on inflation, including the consumer price index, to share with management. The more information employees can offer about changing economic conditions, the more management will understand and accept their position.

Focus on the positive

Employees should begin a conversation about salary with praise for the organization and a reiteration of their commitment to the team. By beginning on a positive note, employees set the tone for a mutually productive conversation. Although employees may view salary negotiations as adversarial across the table, productive negotiations are a conversation with both employee and employer on the same team.

Likewise, while employees may worry about looking greedy, employees should not let that fear prevent them from opening the conversation. Employers also understand that employees work to meet their financial needs. While employers may face budget constraints or other considerations in salary allocation, strong management also recognizes the importance of nurturing growth among employees, both in compensation and job responsibilities.

Nonetheless, employees should focus the discussion on broader economic conditions like inflation, not on their personal budget items. By acknowledging the economic environment outside of the employer’s control, employees can then respectfully request their salary be adjusted for inflation.

Employees with a record of strong results can also gather data or performance reviews to demonstrate their contributions to the team beyond the expectations of their role. In doing so, employees can frame a salary increase as a celebratory recognition of the mutually successful partnership between employee and employer and an investment in the relationship.

Be flexible if negotiations stall

If employers decline to adjust an employee’s salary for inflation, employees should not give up on negotiating additional compensation or benefits. Rather than a pay raise, employees can ask for reimbursement for gas mileage or additional remote days to cut down on their commutes. If management declines a pay raise based on timing, employees can acknowledge that management may face budgetary constraints, remaining flexible but firm. For instance, a compromise may involve revisiting the discussion in three to six months.

As employees face record-breaking inflation, it remains critical to consider the risks of departing one role for another. By implementing best practices in salary negotiations, employees can secure a salary increase that matches inflation, avoid the uncertainty of job-hopping and invest in the future at their current company.

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Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity,a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

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